A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
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August 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Editor’s Note: Marian McPartland died Tuesday of natural causes, at her home in Port Washington, NY. She was 95. Last year, Seattle Times jazz critic Paul de Barros published a biography of the music legend entitled “Shall We Play That One Together?” Below he remembers the delicate process of gaining her trust, drawing her out and getting her to open up about her real story.
“Well, they may not like me,” said Marian McPartland tartly, after reading the enormous first draft of my biography of her, “but they’ll probably like the book.”
Marian was sitting in the kitchen of her cozy, split-level home in Port Washington, Long Island, which she uses as an ad hoc office. It was afternoon. Spread out before her on the laminate-topped table was an array of papers carefully separated into piles. As always, the boom box on the counter, surrounded by stacks of CDS, was tuned to WBGO-FM, the Newark, New Jersey-based National Public Radio station in the New York area that carried her unique show, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, the longest-running arts program in the network’s history. Outside the kitchen’s bay window, sparrows and chickadees darted in and out of a birdhouse stocked with seed or swarmed around an enormous feeder raised by a pulley into one of sweet gums that camouflage her house from the Long Island Rail Road track that runs 300 yards away, across a greenbelt watershed.
I had been working with Marian for three years on her biography. Getting her to finally open up and tell her real story – not the sugarcoated one she had been telling the public all these years – had been a slow and mighty struggle. (more…)
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